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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Jacob Diefenbach's songs from the other side of pride

Posted in: Music
By Scottie D - 24th January 2008

Jacob Diefenbach
The brilliant thing about Ben the bartender at Kamo is that not only is he an ex-music university major who can make incredible cocktails, but also he works during the days at Marbecks and will often play the unique and eclectic selection of music he has amassed during the afternoons for your enjoyment whilst you sip on a chocolate martini.

It was one of these indulgent afternoon forays that I was first introduced to Jacob and his Ripping Stories – and like Ben, after the first track I was completely ensnared by his distinctive sound, haunting tone and captivating lyrics.

Ripping Stories for Boys is Jacob's first album and recounts his experiences as a young gay male - from his struggles with conceptions of masculinity and striving to achieve his father's expectations of a son while growing up in Brisbane, Queensland, to wrestling against the surrender of identity during his 'fresh meat' years in an image obsessed gay community. From a young age his means to rise to these challenges was by expressing himself through music, firstly through the piano at the age of five and later through singing and song writing, yet it was only after completed secondary school and several years on the scene which included a relationship with a guy he met on his first night out, that he achieved a unity between the three.

The range on tone and message throughout the album ranges from light-hearted and whimsical, through pensive and reflective, to macabre and downright scathing as in his dark and powerful, but very catchy track Aryan Boy. Yet all of his songs are melded together through the underlying themes of the exploration of identity and masculinity, the different ways men deny their true selves and ultimately, the point of acceptance and reconciliation - "This is me, I am Man."

The atmosphere of Ripping Stories is deeply affected by Jacob's musical influences; classical composers Grieg, Chopin, Bartok and the dark urgency of Bach. Modern inspiration also includes the work of Tori Amos and the soundtracks of Danny Elfman. Jacob's unique sound has attracted attention from afar, and as well as having performed at the Queensland Pride Festival in 2006/2007, Queer Film Festival (2006/2007), a support performance for Paul Capsis at The Vanguard in Sydney, and a show at the 2007 Annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day, he has also played with the Boston based superb dark cabaret act The Dresden Dolls during the Brisbane and London legs of their world tour.

The unique sound and passionate tales of Ripping Stories for Boys makes it a must-have soundtrack. Jacob's follow-up album Master of Disguise is an exploration of identity in a wider contrast beyond that of their sexuality. It's cheekily been described as his story of "coming out of gay" and is due for release in early February 2008.

Ripping Stories is available from Marbecks on Auckland's Queen Street or online through Jacob Diefenbach's website, linked below. A live performance of Diefenbach's song Drive to Kill appears on the screen below.

Scottie D - 24th January 2008